NFC East: 2012 Week 13 coverage
December, 3, 2012
By Dan Graziano | ESPN.com
LANDOVER, Md. -- A few thoughts on the Washington Redskins' 17-16 comeback victory over the New York Giants on "Monday Night Football" at FedExField.
What it means: There is now a three-way race in the NFC East with four games to go. The Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys are 6-6, sitting one game behind the first-place, 7-5 Giants. An opportunity to build a nearly insurmountable division lead slipped through the Giants' fingers, and while they remain the favorites and still hold the lead -- meaning they're the only ones who can control the division race -- they have a lot of work to do before they can clinch their second straight division title. The Redskins, behind dazzling rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, have won three games in a row -- all against NFC East opponents -- since the bye and sit one game out of the second NFC wild-card spot.
The "other" Redskins rookie: Running back Alfred Morris became the first Redskin to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season since Clinton Portis did it in 2008. He also broke Reggie Brooks' record for rushing yards in a season by a Redskins rookie. Taken in the sixth round of this year's draft out of Florida Atlantic, Morris won the starting running back job in camp and so far ranks among the top five in the league in rushing yardage. He's been a vital part of a Redskins offense that's had to carry the team pretty much all season, and Washington's determination to stick with him even while trailing in the fourth quarter was a big reason it was able to come back and take the lead. The Redskins managed to run for more than 200 yards against the Giants despite losing the time-of-possession battle.
Finish it off: The Giants had an 11-play, 6:32 drive in the first quarter that resulted in a field goal. They had a 13-play, 5:56 drive that resulted in a missed field goal. If they had cashed those in with touchdowns, it likely would not have been a close game, given the remarkable time-of-possession differential. The Giants were outstanding on third down for much of the night, but failing to get more points on those two early drives cost them a chance to put the game away.
Nemesis: Giants quarterback Eli Manning did not throw an interception in the game, and he did throw a touchdown pass. Over the past two years against Washington, he has thrown two touchdown passes and six interceptions, and is 1-3 in four games against the Redskins.
He helps: The Redskins are 5-1 this season in games in which top wide receiver Pierre Garcon plays. Garcon, who missed much of the season with a foot injury, caught eight passes for 106 yards and a touchdown Monday night.
What's next: The Giants host the New Orleans Saints in a 4:25 p.m. ET game Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Saints have lost two games in a row to drop to 5-7 for the season after fighting back from a 1-4 start to get to .500. The Redskins host the Baltimore Ravens in a 1 p.m. ET game Sunday at FedExField. Baltimore is 9-3 after its loss this past Sunday to the Steelers.
December, 2, 2012
By Calvin Watkins | ESPN.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys again were faced with rallying from a double-digit hole. But unlike the Thanksgiving Day loss to the Washington Redskins, Dallas managed to catch up to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Dallas defeated Philadelphia 38-33 to end an eight-game losing streak on Sunday Night Football and keep its playoff hopes alive, slim as they are.
What it means: The Cowboys are back to .500 and are one of three NFC teams at 6-6. They are fighting for a possible NFC East title and possibly a wild-card berth. The New York Giants currently command first place in the division. Getting the sixth seed and the final wild-card spot might prove difficult. Seattle holds the sixth spot, and the Cowboys would lose a tiebreaker to the Seahawks as a result of the Week 2 loss. The Cowboys most likely will have to win out to reach 10 wins and possibly earn the division title to make the playoffs.
Murray returns: After missing six games, starting running back DeMarco Murray returned and finished with 83 yards on 23 carries and one touchdown. Murray, who was out with a sprained left foot, gained 14 yards on his first carry of the game. The Cowboys medical staff monitored Murray throughout the game to make sure he could maintain the workload. Not only did Murray start the game, but the Cowboys also turned to him to close the game.
Romo becomes franchise TD leader: The Cowboys tied the score when Tony Romo did what he does best, scramble away from trouble. Dez Bryant also did what he does best, and that's outrun defenders. Romo moved from pressure and on a short throw found an open Bryant, who outran three defenders to the end zone for a 23-yard reception. Romo's touchdown gave him 166 for his career, surpassing Hall of Famer Troy Aikman on the franchise's all-time touchdown list. The touchdown made it 17-17, with 11:18 to play.
A perfect second half: Romo was fantastic in the second half, completing 10 of 10 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns. It was Romo's best game of the season, better than the Week 1 victory over the Giants. Overall, Romo completed 22 of 27 passes for 303 yards with the three scores. Romo didn't make a bad throw all night despite getting knocked around in the first half and didn't encounter much pressure in the final 30 minutes.
Defense did what? The Cowboys' defense was banged around in the first half and couldn't contain quarterback Nick Foles or running back Bryce Brown. However, the tune changed in the second half. Guess what? The defense forced a turnover. Nose tackle Josh Brent forced a Brown fumble. Cornerback Morris Claiborne scooped it up and returned it 50 yards for the game-clinching score. It was the Cowboys' third defensive touchdown of the season. Brandon Carr returned an interception, thrown by Foles, for a touchdown on Nov. 11.
What's next: A road trip to Cincinnati (7-5), where the Bengals still have playoff hopes. The Cowboys lost 26-3 in their last visit to Cincinnati, in 2004.